Friday, January 23, 2015

Free Read, Part 5 of 5: Misunderstood Hotness

Mason took the next plate and wiped it dry, crowing a little on the inside. Lloyd was interested, but he wasn't going to fawn. It was an unexpected challenge, and Mason liked it. "So, you work with Dylan?" he asked, reverting to a safe topic.

"Yeah. Different projects, but we're all in the same office area."

"When did you first get to meet Maggie?"

Lloyd paused to tilt his head and think. "A few months ago, maybe? Just a few times. Dylan talks about her so much, though, I feel like I know her very well."

Mason chuckled. "She is his favorite topic."

"Yeah, you can tell he adores her."

Dylan swooped back into the kitchen and deposited another armful of glassware. "There are glasses everywhere," he said. "Someone even left one in a potted plant." He shook his head. "Going back for more."

Mason reached for another cup to dry and noticed Llowd was rubbing his right arm against his side in a futile attempt to push his sleeve back up. It had loosened and drooped down his arm. Lloyd saw Mason's attention. "Trying to keep it out of the way without getting it wet and soapy."

"Let me help," Mason said. He carefully rolled the sleeve back into place. He traced his fingers across the skin on Lloyd's forearm, just below the crook of his elbow. "I was wondering if—"

Lloyd sucked in some air. "Look," he said, his voice tight, "you're gorgeous and all—"

"But you've got a boyfriend already? Girlfriend?" Mason's gut tightened. It was disappointing, but not unexpected.

"No, neither," Lloyd said. He stared at Mason, not washing anything for the moment. "I don't know why you didn't go home with anyone else tonight, but I'm not interested in being a consolation attempt." He squared his shoulders. "I'm sorry for being blunt, but—"

"But you think because I'm attractive that I just do what I want, have someone different in my bed every night of the week?" Mason needed to wrap his head around the concept. He sometimes was assumed to be vapid because he was handsome, but he wasn't used to being categorized as being shallow and a player.

"Don't you? I saw you talking to people all night. Most of them seemed to be on offer."

Mason shrugged. "Two years ago, sure. That's how it was, but it's lost its luster. That's not me anymore. People don't see me, you know, they just see someone they think they should be with."

"Living a misunderstood life as a hot guy?" Lloyd asked, his tone a mix of sarcasm and humor.

"Pretty much," Mason confirmed. "I just wanted to ask you out on a date. Tomorrow night? Coffee, a meal? That's it." He grinned. "I'll dress down. Wear old clothes. Muss up my hair."

"Pfft," Lloyd snorted. "You couldn't look bad even then." He stared hard at Mason. "Okay. Dinner. You're buying."

"Absolutely." Mason edged in a little. "Do you think we could seal the agreement with a pre-date kiss?"

Lloyd narrowed his eyes. "Don't push your luck. You're hot, but I don't know if I actually like you yet."

Mason laughed. "I look forward to earning that kiss."

Lloyd turned back to washing dishes. "Finish drying these and maybe it'll count toward your good behavior score."

Mason flapped the dish towel over his shoulder and wagged his hands in the air. "And I should get a few points for dishpan hands."

Lloyd rinsed a cup and set it in the strainer. "I'm the one with dishpan hands. I think you're going to be starting with a deficit."

"Oh, I think I'll catch up." Mason set to work drying the waiting dishes.

Dylan sailed into the kitchen with another armful of plates. "I found a whole bunch of them in the bathroom. The bathroom! Who leaves plates in the bathroom?" He sighed. "Listen, guys, I appreciate it, but you don't have to stay and do this. I can run another dishwasher load in the morning."

Lloyd threw a sly look at Mason as he called over his shoulder. "I don't mind. The company is nice in here."

"The company—" Dylan stopped short and then he walked backwards. "Ahhh, great. I'll go help Maggie on the couch then. Just keep on cleaning up in here."

"Will do," Mason said. He took another mug from Lloyd, and wondered if perhaps he could argue for a goodnight kiss. Surely this should count as a first date?

"Dinner first," Lloyd murmured, as if he'd read Mason's mind. "You still need to prove you're more than a pretty face."

"Working on it," Mason said, and a warmth bloomed in his chest. Lloyd was certainly more than he seemed on the outside and Mason was looking forward to learning everything there was to know. He had no doubt he'd earn that kiss, and then some. He grabbed another dish and wiped it dry. There were plenty more to go.

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